Colorado Parks and Wildlife often set up check stations in order to inspect fishermen in Colorado and their gear, vehicles, and landed fish. These check points can be set up anywhere, but are most often situated on the roads leading out of popular fishing areas. While the CPW wardens and officers conducting the check points do have a certain amount of authority, you still retain rights as an individual.
Colorado Revised Statutes 33-6-111 (2) states: The division is authorized to establish check stations, as needed, at locations within the state to aid in the management of wildlife and the enforcement of articles 1 to 6 [of the laws governing hunting and fishing in the state of Colorado]. Persons who encounter check stations, whether in possession of wildlife or not, shall stop and produce licenses issued by the division, firearms, and wildlife for inspection by division personnel. Any person who violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by a fine of one hundred dollars and an assessment of five license suspension points.
When you approach a check station after fishing, you are required to produce your fishing license and any fish you have in your possession. If you fail to do so, or refuse to do so, you will receive the fines and suspension points as outlined in the statute. However, officers of the division of Colorado Parks and Wildlife are limited in their power at check stations.
C.R.S. 33-6-101(1) states that any CPW officer has the authority "to open, enter, and search all places of concealment where he or she has probable cause to believe wildlife held in violation" of the Colorado fishing regulations may be concealed. This statute applies to both motor vehicles and vessels--Everything from a paddleboard or canoe to trucks, jeeps and RV's. Once an officer has "probable cause" to believe that some evidence of a fishing violation may have been committed is concealed somewhere in your motor vehicle or vessel, they may search those motor vehicles or vessels. Refusal to consent to a search is NOT probable cause to search. You have every right to refuse a search of your motor vehicle or vessel.
If your vehicle or vessel was searched and evidence was found that allegedly indicated a fishing violation or other crime had occurred, you need to consult with an attorney before making any decisions. The Law Office of Nathaniel Gilbert will take your call and provide a 100% free consultation so there is no downside to calling.